That night when it was a bit more than Game of Thrones

We just got back from a run and a heavy lunch, and I knew what I was gonna do with the rest of my afternoon. Figure out gas stations. Yup as ridiculous as it may sound, I never used one in this country (one of the reasons why I wrote this). But after that I was gonna watch Game of Thrones with a friend; our Sunday ritual since the last few weeks. She arrived a bit early, and when I went to buzz her in, she got a few other friends with her. They had beer, wine and champagne. A few more friends came by later with more drinks. I thought Kiran and Boddu might get a cake, and Karthik and Shanthi vadina might come say hi, but apart from that I wasn’t expecting anything. I mean there have been enough May 16s now and I wasn’t really in the celebratory mood this year. So I would have been happy with a good episode of Game of Thrones. But it turned out be much more; there was cake, lots of it, on my face, champagne and showers, and kicks, shouts, laughs, music, food, and drinks. It turned out to be a party, and we didn’t even wait till the episode finished.

Here is a biggg huggg for everyone who was there that day, who made it special for me, for wishing me and for celebrating the day with me. Thank you :).

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Setting up the whiskey shot

I had to do a Glenlivet shot before I cut the cakes. Our rooms tradition 😀

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All the champagne we opened that night

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Group shot!

Shanthi Vadina baked that. We didn’t take a pic that day, but I do have an older one 🙂
At work. My teammates got this :).
That was red velvet with strawberries 🙂

Bay to breakers

It is a 12 km run that happens once every year. Maybe run is not the accurate word to describe this event; I mean sure there are people who run, but I think it is mostly known for people dressing up and walking/dancing through the streets of San Francisco. In some streets they party so hard, it reminds me of the American Pie movies… “boom boxes, dancing, booze, weed and brownies”. There is a lot of cosplay, and for me that is one of the major highlights. Lets be honest; Halloween in the summer is awesome considering we don’t need jackets and hoodies to cover up those marvelous costumes.

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Fresh face, at the start of the walk!

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One of those party houses

We did this last year too, but I enjoyed it more this year. Kiran tells me we took 2hr 50 mins last year to walk our way to the finish line. This time we did it in just 2 hours. Cheers to that! Last year towards the end of the race, I tapped Kiran from behind challenging for a race. Of course I beat him to the finish line, and that is when we got this pic clicked (one of my favorites).

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Run, Forrest, Run!

This year he tried doing the same thing, and got the head start. But I was able to sneak in the gap between two people and I beat him again. Good luck next year bud ;).

After the finish line you walk through this pier overlooking the beach, and that alone makes waking up early on that day worth it. Not to mention all the naked people, costumes, the dancing, scenic views and the laughs. And we topped off the walk with Haleem, Biryani and Qubani Ka Meetha. So woohoo :).

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By the pier overlooking the beach

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The ones with the awww costumes

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Towards the finish line

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Victory smiles after the finish line

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Cold, hard, steel!

I am sure you were hoping to look at pictures with more than our faces, but due to their innate scandalous nature, won’t be posting them here (I’d like to keep this blog family friendly 😛 ). But in case you are curious, and if you are around, you should join us the next year. We are a lazy going fun bunch, and as they say the more the merrier :).

Bouldering

We just finished our climb when it was announced that there was 10 minutes left before they close for the day. She suggested we boulder, and took us to the trial that Joseph recently did and posted a video of.

A trial in bouldering takes a lot less time to complete than top rope climbing, but it is definitely more scarier. There is nothing to stop your fall, except for that thick squishy mat. Considering my size, I am afraid I would easily bounce off and fall on the hard floor. Apart from that it is a lot of fun. Here, you can checkout it out  for yourself…

 

Cracking the…

If you are a Computer Science student or a Software Engineer by profession, and are not living under a rock you would know her. Even if you are not either of that, there is still a good chance you have heard about her; Gayle Laakmann Mcdowell. Like thousands of other students and job seekers, I was a beneficiary of her book (Cracking the Coding Interview) and her site (CareerCup). I also read a number of her blogs and answers on Quora, and I find her inspiring. So last year in July, when she was in OpenDNS in San Francisco to promote the 6th edition of the book which made her a best selling author, I went down to hear her talk in person. It was a meet and greet followed by Q&A with her, and it was pretty good.

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During the CTCI book launch event

You must be thinking why is this relevant now. Well a few days ago a friend of mine was telling me that she wanted to get into Product Management. So I was doing some research online when I stumbled across a workshop, ‘Cracking the PM Interview’ with Gayle as the guest speaker. To those who don’t know, Gayle co-authored the book Cracking the PM interview with Jackie Bavaro (btw she has a cool PM blog too). The workshop was on Thursday last week, but unlike the first time I was late by the time I discovered this, and the tickets to the event had already been sold out. I thought I missed it this time.

On Thursday around afternoon, I got an email from a group I follow about this workshop, and fortunately they had a few tickets reserved. I managed to get one this time, and attended the event. While the crowd in the first event I met were mostly Software Engineers, this time it was way more diverse. I met a few Tech Consultants, a couple of Business Analysts, Product Managers, a Product Marketing Manager, a CEO of a startup and a handful of Software Engineers. I talked to the CEO and he told me that he was there to recruit Software Engineers. Hilarious and smart!

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During the CTPI workshop

The workshop was basically a talk where Gayle went through the type of questions typically asked in a PM interview, and how people with different backgrounds can set themselves up in order to receive interview calls and to be in a good position to crack the interviews. The talk ended with a solid Q&A and before she left us she told us where to find the resources from the talk online.

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In case you are interested, you can find the slides here, and the handout here. Another name that frequently came up during my search was Lewis Lin. He also has a book (Decode and Conquer) on PM interviews, and is active on Quora. And if you are curious about listening to what PMs have to say then you should check out ‘The Product Manager Handbook‘. It is a 60 page book with 10 interviews from PMs written by two students, Carl Shan and Brittany Cheng. Makes for a very interesting and fun read. And oh, they have a website too.

 

The climb

On a good day when I think about rock climbing, these lines scroll through my head, almost always.

Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.

Now don’t tell me you haven’t heard these lines before. If TV were a god then that would be blasphemy. These lines are from one of the best monologues ever seen on TV. Want a refresher? Here you go

Anyways I am digressing; coming back to the real world, I have been climbing since a few weeks. Its exponentially more fun than going to the gym. Maybe I like it so much because I am new; maybe not. I like it more than running, hiking or horse riding. Not to mention it is much cheaper than the latter. In addition to being fun, it is also exhausting and probably more painful too. I have my hands scratched, legs bruised and shins chipped. Bandaids don’t really help, cause its all the more painful when you try to remove them. But it all seems worth it when you finish the climb.

Not to mention I am not even good at it. In fact I suck. I suck so bad that I failed miserably when I tried to do a new trail in the last two classes. Trail 5.10b. That was a sour grape. A couple nights ago, I went in again. I just got off a phone call; was feeling low, but determined. Then I tried again. I had to take a break on the ropes for probably half a dozen times, and I was loosing my grip before reaching the final rock, again and again, but I somehow managed to crawl my way up till the end. Then I did another one, and this time without any break. Finally, my 6th time rock climbing, 5.10b scaled! Margaret, the one who introduced me to climbing, she did her first 5.11a. That was pretty cool to watch.

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Its the green trail

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After she did her 5.11a

We went back climbing again last night. I wanted to make sure the last time was not just luck. I struggled, but I finished 3 other 5.10b’s. And Kiran did his 1st 5.10a and 5.10b. That’s two level ups in a night. Way to go buddy.

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This time its the blue one

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At the end of our climbing night

The next time its time for us to try out some 5.10c’s. Psyched!

Toasts

I like toasts; ever since I saw Joey give one. While I did give toasts before, it was never in a suit, and with champagne; with whiskey sure, but with the bubbly drink, nope. Why now? Well I came across this video from Friends that brought back memories. Toasts, I like them, because they are funny, and at times can be heartfelt and real. And being real is hard, for some harder than others; so I think we should all give them. More often. And because it is an indication of a celebration, of the start of something; a new chapter, a new beginning. Folks, here is me keeping it simple

To the people in my life,
hugs for standing by,
three cheers!

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and here’s to embarrassing a few of them 😉

I have written toasts before and if you’d like to read them, you can find them here (The Monsoon Wedding) and here (The ones with the graduation). And to lighten up the mood, this is what got me started

and here are a couple more